Tag Archive | "Bronx"

Latino Voters Say No Way to Romney


In the final stretch of the presidential campaign, both candidates are finally scrambling to capture the attention of the nation’s 25 million Hispanic voters. If Bronx Latinos are any indication, Republican challenger Mitt Romney may have lost that contest by a landslide.

An informal BronxInk survey of 42 Latinos did not find one potential voter who planned to support the GOP candidate. Ninety percent of respondents said they would vote for President Barack Obama, while 10 percent were undecided.

A BronxInk.org Sept. 22 survey of 42 Hispanic voters in the Bronx

Some surveyed said Romney had gone out of his way to insult them. “Take my word, 90 percent of the Bronx is going for Obama,” predicted Alberto Colón, a 58-year-old Puerto Rican and retired warehouse worker, interviewed in East Tremont. “Romney offended the people of the Bronx. I don’t believe anything he says.”

Others were skeptical that the GOP contender had any real understanding of their lives. “If you were born in a golden cradle, it’s really likely that you won’t understand what it feels like to be poor,” said Angel Bruno, 67, Puerto Rican-born, who compared Obama to John F. Kennedy. “Obama had a humble childhood and therefore he isn’t indifferent to Latino suffering.”

Sidewalk interviews with residents were conducted on September 22 from the Pelham Parkway neighborhood to the Highbridge section of the Bronx. The 42 respondents ranged in age from 20 to 80. Eight were women and 34 were male. Those surveyed said they emigrated originally from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Ecuador and México. Hispanics represent 54 percent of the population in the Bronx.

Results echoed a national USA TODAY/Gallup Poll released on June 24, that found Obama leads among 66 percent of Hispanics, compared to Romney’s 25 percent. In 2008, Obama won 67 percent of Latinos, while Republican challenger John McCain brought in 31 percent.

On Monday, Sept. 17, Mitt Romney addressed business leaders at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, saying he is “convinced that the Republican Party is the rightful home for Hispanic Americans.”

However, the Republican Party’s hard line immigration policies and Romney’s support for Arizona’s immigration law, might explain why those surveyed in the Bronx view him cautiously. Eight-two percent said Barack Obama better understands the needs and problems of immigrants.

For Francisco Almaguer Cruz, a 54-year-old Cuban,  Mitt Romney is not an option for immigrants. “You have to be crazy to vote for Romney. He doesn’t care about the poor.”

Hispanics strongly favor Obama in general. Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said they have a favorable image of Obama, while 51 percent expressed an unfavorable view of Romney.

A BronxInk.org Sept. 22 survey of 42 Hispanic voters in the Bronx

Although President Obama in his first term in office did not introduce the immigration reform he promised, over 71 percent of the survey participants approve of the way he has handled immigration.

Raúl Lopez, a 44-year-old Mexican immigrant who has been struggling during the last three years to find a job, believes Obama inherited a tattered economy that has kept him from paying attention to immigration reform. “We have to give him more time,” said Lopez. “Four years are not enough to fix the immigration system.”

Most said they were impressed by Obama’s recent policy decision to defer deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the  United States as children. Over half of the surveyed said they believe Obama when he says if elected again, he will continue to reform immigration policies.

A BronxInk.org Sept. 22 survey of 42 Hispanic voters in the Bronx

Still, health care remains the top concern of Latino voters in the Bronx, more than immigration policies. Thirty-three percent selected health care as their top concern, followed by employment, and then immigration.  According to a Gallup Poll, Hispanics put healthcare and all economic issues before immigration.

Many surveyed accused both candidates of pandering to Hispanics. Bronx Hispanics like Reina Ramirez, 54, cast doubt on the candidates’ real commitment to the community. “Behind their promises is a strategy to win votes,” said Ramirez. “They just want to pretend that we’re important because they need our vote.”

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, East Bronx, Featured, North Central Bronx, Politics, Southern BronxComments (0)

Bronx District Attorney Curbs Stop-and-Frisk Abuses

Angelo Meneses, 17, protested the New York City Police Department’s Stop and Frisk policies at a rally held by the New York Civil Liberties Union at City Hall. (JIKA GONZALEZ/ The Bronx Ink)

The Bronx District Attorney’s office became the first in the city to openly question the validity of some stop-and-frisk arrests, by requiring police officers to verify each one in person before charges are rendered.

In the past, arresting police officers had to fill out a sworn statement and routine paperwork. Now, officers will now also have to prove under questioning that the suspect was not a resident or an invited guest in the housing project. The policy has been in place in the Bronx since July, as first reported by the New York Times.

“It’s a great step and it shows that the community pressure can no longer be ignored,” said Jose La Salle, a community organizer with Stop Stop & Frisk, a police reform advocacy group. “People don’t really know yet, but it’s up to the community to let the community know.”

The policy’s objective is to “seek the truth” and give prosecutors a better understanding of the cases before they lay charges, said Steven Reed, spokesperson for the Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson.

“When we don’t have the ability to question the officer as to the specifics, we don’t always get the complete picture of what occurred,” he wrote in an email to the BronxInk.org.

Reed also said his office discussed the policy with other district attorneys and with police before it was implemented. He declined to comment further due to ongoing litigation.

Legal and community advocates in the Bronx responded with guarded relief. “The Bronx District Attorney’s Office found what we have seen on the ground for years–a pattern of unlawful arrests resulting from the NYPD’s policies that target young men of color,” said Robin Steinberg, executive director of The Bronx Defenders, a non-profit legal aid organization.

Police data shows that young black men represent 26 percent of NYPD stops, but only 2 percent of the city’s population. Latino men make up 16 percent of the stops, but only 3 percent of the city’s population.

“It’s about time that a prosecutor finally had the courage to stand up to the NYPD,” Steinberg said.

Numbers from August show misdemeanor trespassing cases in the Bronx have dropped by almost 25 percent, which suggests the new policy may be having a dramatic effect.  Total trespass arrests have also declined in the Bronx since this time last year, dropping by more than 38 percent.

In other boroughs like Manhattan and Brooklyn, the number of cases declined by only 5 percent since last August. In Queens, trespass arrests actually saw an increase over the same time frame.

District attorneys in the other four boroughs have not commented on Johnson’s policy change.

Community activists hope the other boroughs will follow suit.  Bronx prosecutors “are starting to see that they can’t stand behind the NYPD,” said Andrea Ritchie, a civil rights attorney with Streetwise & Safe. “They don’t want to waste their time prosecuting people for no reason.”

The move is a step in the right direction, said Tomasina Sams Riddick, co-founder of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance, a nonprofit civil rights group that advocates fair law enforcement practices for people of color. She said the move highlights the current need to execute stop-and-frisk “appropriately” and puts more responsibility on police to arrest with a reason.

FURTHER READING: Sounding Off Stop and Frisk: Bronx Ink reporters fanned out over 12 neighborhoods last week to capture the stories and thoughts from Bronx residents about law enforcement tactics.

 

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Crime, Former Featured, Front Page, Housing, Sizing up Stop and FriskComments (1)

Espada’s lawyer seeks to quit fraud case

Disgraced former state Sen. Pedro Espada may be left without legal council if court approves his lawyer’s request to quit his case in an upcoming federal trial, reports the New York Daily News.

Espada is facing charges related to an earlier conviction in May, which found he had embezzled $400,000 from Soundview Healthcare Network, a chain of health clinics he founded, to pay for expensive dinners and other personal items.On Nov. 5, he is set to stand trial for related tax fraud  in Manhattan Federal Court.

Daniel Hochheiser, Espada’s lawyer, did not explain why he is seeking to drop his client’s case.

 

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Bus driver charged with death of 15 drove fatigued

The bus driver charged in a crash that killed 15 tourists on the way back from a casino knew the risks of fatigue but chose to drive sleep deprived anyway, prosecutors said Thursday at the first day of his manslaughter trial, reports the New York Daily News.

Ophadell Williams was driving the bus from a Connecticut casino to Chinatown on March 12, 2011 when he lost control on Interstate 95 as the vehicle entered the Bronx, killing 15 passengers. Prosecutors believe he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed the bus as a result.

His defense has said Williams got plenty of rest and was not asleep when the accident occured.

Williams has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide.

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Waitstaff sues Yankees over tips

Waitstaff at the Yankee Stadium’s exclusive box seats are suing the New York Yankees concession management for tips they believe they are owed, the New York Post reports.

The suit was filed at the Bronx Supreme Court and claims management formerly applied a 20 percent mandatory service charge to each patron’s bill but that tip didn’t go to service workers.The policy allegedly earned the company between $500,000 and $1 million in gratuity and thirty-two current and former workers are seeking compensation.

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Ex-detective on trial for running over Bronx grandma

A witness in the case of a former police detective accused in a off-duty drunk driving accident that killed a 67-year-old Bronx woman told court on Monday the accused slured his speech and smelled of alcohol, reports the New York Daily News.

Kevin Spellman struck and killed Drane Nikac, a Kingsbridge resident and grandmother of nine, as she crossed the street with a shopping cart in October 2009.

Sgt. Brian Lopez testified at the pre-trial hearing that the accused was unsteady on his feet and initially thought he had hit a man.

Pre-trial proceedings continue today.

 

 

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Bronx Court Officers Honored for Stopping Gunfight near Yankee Stadium

Bronx Bureau President Ruben Diaz, Jr., center, praised court officers for heroic acts beyond their daily duties, including stopping a vendor gunfight in late August.

 

It was lunchtime on a sunny day outside Yankee Stadium  last month.

Bronx Supreme Court Officer Raymond Mercado had just picked up his Spanish takeout meal when he heard the piercing pops of gunfire and watched a crowd of people fleeing in panic.

 “Everyone was running away from the gunshots,” said Mercado, 42. “I was just looking for the shooter.”

He was one of six court officers who rushed to the scene Aug. 23 after an angry vendor opened fire on the busy corner of 161st Street and Gerard Avenue. Mercado picked up the revolver the shooter had flung on the sidewalk while his fellow officers chased down the suspect. “We did what we were supposed to do. We acted on our training and we acted as a team.”

On Thursday afternoon, Bronx Bureau President Ruben Diaz Jr. honored the court officers for their acts of heroism in a small ceremony inside Diaz’s office in the Bronx County Courthouse on the Grand Concourse. Besides Mercado, Diaz gave accolades to Bronx Criminal Court Officers Paul Tammaro, Vincent Allis and Wascar Herrera, and Civil Court Officers Steve Snyder and Katie Dalton.

“You make your job so effortless that we don’t realize that you’re prepared, you’re trained and you  have the heart and the courage really can take charge of the situation,” Diaz told the officers, who stood side by side in a small conference room while proud family members clapped and captured the moment on their cell phones.

Seven family members, mostly siblings, of Officer Katie Dalton, 48, said they were not surprised by their sisters’ bravery.

 “No one messes with Katie,” Dalton’s sister, 46-year-old Jennifer Russell, chimed in.

Court Officer Katie Dalton, 48, hugs her sister Thursday shortly after Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. commended her heroism during an Aug. 23 vendor shooting.

The alleged shooter, 52-year-old water stand vendor Horace Coleman, is accused of firing three to six rounds of ammunition  at a newspaper seller after getting into a big argument with him the day before over a turf war, witnesses told The New York Post.

By the time Dalton made it to the shooter, fellow officers had the suspect pinned down on the street, so she scrambled to help the victims. The shooter hit 60-year-old newspaper vendor Douglas Watkins and 41-year-old Clarence “Clay” Pearson in their torsos. Dalton knelt down by Pearson as officers waited for medical aid.

Dalton recalled Pearson saying, “‘I’m going to die, I’m going to die,” she said. “I  just tried to keep him calm,  just tried to help him out, to make him feel better.”

Pearson died on Aug. 25, and Watkins survived. Coleman, who had sold sunglasses and bottled water, is facing murder charges.

Bronx County Administrative Judge Douglas McKeon commended the court officers for helping prevent the erratic gunfight from escalating further.

“Their commitment doesn’t end or begin at the courthouse steps,” McKeon said. “They truly epitomize the kind of characteristics that we need in officers today. When money is tight, they’re asked to do more.”

Amid budget shortfalls, the New York State Court system has eliminated more than 1,300 positions through layoffs and attrition over the past few years, including court officers from all ranks.

Mercado said he has aided police in a handful of similar scuffles during his eight years in the court’s civil division. He can’t help but feeling a little uneasy these days on his lunch break, and he tries to be extra vigilant as he strolls the crowded thoroughfares near the stadium.

 “It’s a little nerve-racking,” he said. “You don’t feel it while it’s happening; you feel it afterward, and then you start thinking you have a family.”

Mercado’s 5-year-old son, Justin, smiled wide as his dad shook Diaz’s hand and accepted his certificate. If he doesn’t cut it as a singer like Justin Bieber, Justin Mercado wants to become a cop or court officer like his father, Mercado’s wife, Jane, said.

“He looks up to his dad tremendously,” she said. “It’s exciting for him.”

Court Officer Raymond Mercado strives to be a good role model for his 5-year-old son, Justin.

Thursday’s awards ceremony also honored several other court officers for their acts of heroism in two other incidents. On June 19, Capt. Anthony Manzi, Sgt. Ramon Dominguez and court officers Jose Reyes and Carlos Rivera helped catch a man accused of burglarizing several vehicles in the area. Court Officer Angel Ripolls of the criminal division helped save a 1-year-old who was choking on Sept. 3.

“It’s cool for me to know that everyday people who are doing their jobs are here in our borough, and are also our heroes,” Diaz said.

Posted in Bronx Beats, Bronx Neighborhoods, CrimeComments (0)

Cuevas Family Faces Robbery Suspects In Court

The Bronx District Attorney charged three robbery suspects with homicide in the death of bodega worker Reynaldo Cuevas, shot by police as he tried to flee the robbers. SADEF A. KULLY/Bronxink)

The family of the bodega worker shot and killed by a police officer two weeks ago reacted with strong emotions yesterday as they faced in court the three suspects accused of robbing the Morrisania grocery.

Police claim the officer shot 20-year-old Reynaldo Cuevas by accident when Cuevas ran out Natalie Deli and Grocery on the street in the Bronx and collided with Officer Ramysh Bangali.

All three suspects–Orlando Ramos, 31, Ernesto Delgado, 28, and Christopher Dorsey, 17–have been charged not only with robbery but with the murder of Cuevas. All three suspects have pleaded not guilty.

After the first, and the youngest, suspect appeared in court, the Cuevas family left the courtroom and burst into tears, holding each other and crying as Assistant District Attorney Theresa Gottlieb tried to explain the case to them.

One family member was so hysterical that she needed medical attention explained a court officer in the court hallway.

The Assistant District Attorney had no comments on the case and family members did not speak to the press.

The case has stirred some already heated emotions in the community against the New York City Police Department. 

The Cuevas family did not stay behind for Ramos and Delgado’s court appearances. Delgado smiled and winked at his family members who sat in the back of the courtroom.

The suspects were assigned Judge Miriam Best to oversee the trial, and their next court date was scheduled for Oct 26.

 

 

Posted in Bronx Neighborhoods, Crime, Morrisania, MorrisaniaComments (0)

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